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Alaia Chronicles #2

Kismet's Kiss

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"A must-read for all fantasy romance lovers."The Romance Reviews

"So much sexual tension that the pages are likely to burn your fingers as you eagerly beg for more."Coffee Time Romance

A magically romantic fantasy

In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a mystical 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 is a two-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, a 2010 nominee for Best Debut and Best Fantasy Romance from The Romance Reviews, and a winner of the Duel on the Delta, The Molly, and the Put Your Heart in a Book contests. 

Critics Say:

"An exotic story with incredible depth and riveting characters. . . .Electrifying. It keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire ride." —The Crazy Bookworm

"Kismet's Kiss is a magical, exhilarating, sensual delight. Lush exotic world-building, riveting storyline, and strong personable characters set the stage for a rich and captivating story. . . ." —Smexy Books

"A harem fantasy brimming with desire, enchantment and betrayal. . . . I highly recommend Kismet's Kiss to all readers who enjoy a touch of magic with their romance." —The Romance Studio

"Envelops the reader in a lush, exotic world of silk and sherbet, scimitars and precious stones. . . . Kismet's Kiss delivers an exhilarating reading experience." —SciFiGuy.ca

"Magic, passion, and intrigue—Kismet's Kiss has it all! Cate Rowan's uniquely compelling fantasy debut is set in a fascinating and fully realized world where danger lurks in every shadow. Rowan is definitely an author to watch!" —Alyssa Day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

"Beautifully written fantasy romance. . . . I LOVED it! I can't wait to read more books in this series." —Debra Holland, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

More titles in the Alaia Chronicles fantasy romance series:

The Source of Magic
A modern woman finds herself ensnared in a fantasy otherworld, trapped by treachery and family secrets—and opposing a mystical prince, the one man who can make everything right.

259 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 24, 2010

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About the author

Cate Rowan

17 books568 followers
USA Today bestseller Cate Rowan writes novels of magic and royal romance set in fantasy kingdoms (and queendoms!) near and far.

She has washed laundry in a crocodile-infested African lake, parasailed over a Mexican beach, and had Costa Rican monkeys poop in her hair, but her favorite adventures are story worlds. Her creative, out-of-the-box tales of heroic odysseys and true love have won more than thirty awards.

These days she lives in the wild Rocky Mountains with her husband, their rescued feline fur-children, and a horse suitably nicknamed Stinkerbelle.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 69 reviews
Profile Image for S.
381 reviews91 followers
May 3, 2015
4.5 mystic stars!

Exquisite, enthralling, enchanting, marvelous, tingling, unique, masterpiece.


It was one of a kind! Set in the beautiful Middle East in some faraway time, this is a tale about magic, healing, love and power. Kuramos is the Sultan of Kad and when a mystic illness takes over his palace, he is forced to seek aid from a faraway kingdom. Varene, the Royal Healer of Teganne, appears and spark fly from the instant the meet! But Kuramos already have six wives! I had no idea how I was going to feel about that. But I'm happy to announce that it worked out to my satisfaction. It's an escapist read - and a wondrous one!


The pages are blazing! They are colorful, vivid and tingling. I don't want to spoil a thing! It was so unique. It was fun, hot and sparkling! It was fantasy meets romance in the best possible way! Combine Julie Garwood, Big Love and Game of Thrones and you are somewhere in the vicinity of this book. I so hope that there is sequel. It was my only complaint. That it ended too soon!


Add it, read it! That's all.

My biggest thanks to Cate Rowan and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC!
Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews414 followers
August 5, 2013
I received this book from Netgalley for my honest review.

This is a great story!!!
I enjoyed very much the ambience, the loved story between Varene and Kuramos, the world building!

The story is non very unusual, but the twist about the love story was!

Varene is a wonderful character. She knows exactly what she want and has no problem demanding it.

Kuramos is wonderful too. A very sexual man, used to have everything he wants. But, at the same time giving everything he has to all his people. His people are very, very important to him and even if he requires their respect and obedience, he’s ready to make sacrifices for them.

Two very different cultures: Varene’s Teganne an illuminated monarchy, where magic is very valued; Kuramos’s Kad a very closed and strict, where magic is shunned. In Teganne the women are as valued as men; in Kad women are treated as men’s proprieties.

You can imagine what Varene finds and how she’s treated when she arrived in Kad! On top of being a woman, she’s a healer and uses magic for her healings!

Fortunately Kuramos, who is the one who’s summoned her, is a highly intelligent man and in his own way tries to ease the stay in Kad.

During her stay she has to fight with bigotry, sickness, enmity , but she also conquers the hearts of her assistant and her hand-maiden. And, also the heart of Kuramos…

Kuramos wants her from the start, but Varene is not one of Kad’s women. She independent, she has a very important position, she is an expert healer and, even if she falls in love with Kuramos, she’s not ready to bend her believes and submit.

As the story goes we clearly see the love growing between them, but we also see the apparently insurmountable problems they have to overcome. But I’ll not be giving anything about how this dilemma is solved: you have to read it to find out! :D
I’ll only say that I loved this story so much that I’ve gone and read the prequel: The Source of Magic!
Profile Image for Cate Rowan.
Author 17 books568 followers
September 17, 2010
I wrote this novel, so yes, I love it. Adore it. And still wish I could drop myself into it and run around.

Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I can't really help that. ;)
Profile Image for Erin.
114 reviews
September 5, 2013
3 1/2 stars - I liked this book for the most part but thought the ending was too rushed. It is definitely worth the read though.
Profile Image for Tori.
2,812 reviews477 followers
October 22, 2010
Originally posted at http://www.smexybooks.com/2010/10/rev...

I gave this a 4.5

Favorite Quote, “It will be the greatest agony I can bear. But the alternative is something I can’t bear at all.”

In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic has struck the palace of Sultan Kuramos. As the Royal family lies sick and close to death, only a magical healer from an enemy land may have the skill to save his household.
When Varene, the Royal Healer of Tergenne, is summoned to Kad she finds things are not as she thought. She expects the sultan's arrogance, but not his courage or his selfless care of the ill. 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, passion turns to love.

Kismet’s Kiss is an magical, exhilarating, sensual delight. Lush exotic world building, riveting storyline, and strong personable characters set the stage for a rich and captivating story filled with sultry romance, delicious humor, and tense suspense. A fascinating read that captured me at page one.

The Sultan of Kad, Kuramos, is a strong and traditional ruler who holds tight to his honer above all else. He has held rule for over 200 years and along with his 6 wives does what is best for his people-even at the expense of his own happiness. Kuramos exiled all magic from his kingdom after the last war and forbids it’s use. When his kingdom is stricken by a deadly illness he breaks protocol and sends for help from the country of his greatest enemy.
Help comes in the form of Varene na Seryn; the royal healer of Teganne. Kuramos is shocked to discover Varene is beautiful, magical, and a female and struggles to accept her and allow her to heal his people. As he watches Varene try to save his people, his respect evolves into something much deeper.

Varene is a strong out spoken women who is non apologetic for her gender or magic. Upon entering Kad she is assaulted and her opinion of Kad and it’s ruler plummets. But when she learns that Kuramo is the one who has been caring for his sick family she begins to wonder about her other misconceptions of him. As she interacts with him and his people, she sees another side to Kuramo and begins to lose her heart.

Varene is an exceptional heroine. Constructed and fleshed out with a undeniable realism, I was impressed with her independence, intelligence, and emotional stability. She takes her healing magic seriously and the plot that revolves around this aspect is artfully constructed with plenty of tense action and suspense. She isn’t perfect and Ms. Rowen’s shows her flaws without gilding.
I especially enjoyed the fact that Varene is secure enough in herself and her needs to admit that Kuramo’s love is not enough to overcome her distaste of his culture. And that by succumbing to his demands, she is only setting them both up for misery and heartbreak.

Kuramo’s was a joy to watch. Arrogant and aloof, he is adorably confused when Varene does not acknowledge just how “wonderful” he is. Varene’s independence infuriates and tantalizes him. Yet for all his posturing, he truly loves his wives and children and maintains an unwavering loyalty to them. He tries very hard to understand her feelings and her antagonism towards his culture but he cannot see beyond his own wants. And he wants her.

Ms. Rowen uses a deft hand in developing Kuramos and Varene’s relationship; taking us a down emotionally charged path without plunging us directly into the physical realm. The courtship is ripe with innuendos and tense internal conflicts, building deliciously slowly and sensually till I found myself practically vibrating with the need to see how it ends. The mystery in this story provides a nice balance to the romance. Ms Rowen does a fabulous job of sacrificing neither in it’s telling.

Each character in this story is such a rich and satisfying blend of personality and depth. Ms Rowen has a gifted way of inebriating her characters with such vibrancy they fairly leap off the pages. Kuramo’s wives are each worthy of a story all their own. In fact, I thought so much about them that I sent Ms. Rowen a fangirl latter. She answered me (SQUEEE!!!) and I found out that we will be seeing more of this fabulous world and it’s inhabitants in the future.

The ending was a roller coaster ride of suspense that had me up and down, twisting and turning till the climatic electrifying finale that will soften even the most jaded of hearts.

A newcomer to the fantasy genre, Cate Rowen’s is a writing force to be reckoned with and I look forward to reading more about her wonderful world of Kismet. I recommend this to everyone who is looking for a thrilling ride of suspense and romance in a world filled with magic.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle (In Libris Veritas).
1,936 reviews79 followers
April 1, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Jeannie Lin.
Author 51 books920 followers
November 13, 2010
As a fan of traditional fantasy and romance, Kismet's Kiss was a must read for me. And I was not disappointed! The worldbuilding was effortless and I felt transported into the Arabian Nights. Kismet's Kiss takes place in a fantasy world with a Middle Eastern flair, but it's clear from the start that this world is the author's unique creation. Two opposing kingdoms, Kad and Teganne, have a long history of struggle between them. Teganne is a land of mages whereas the Kaddites distrust magic. Yet when a mysterious illness strikes the palace and the sultan Kuramos' own family, he has no choice but to summon the court healer from Teganne.

Varene is the practical and strong-willed woman who gets summoned to the sultan's palace. As a foreigner and a vile "sorceress", Kad is a dangerous place for her, but her dedication to healing keeps her there. I loved how the first part of the book was a mystery, with Varene moving through the palace and investigating the sickness. I also found it very refreshing how the romance builds slowly, with Varene gradually coming to understand and respect the burden Kuramos carries as the leader of his family and his country.

Throughout the book, I was charmed by the subtle magic and Gunjan, the talking jencel bird, was a delightful sidekick. Without mentioning spoilers, at one point I became fearful for him, but everything worked out very nicely.

This was a refreshing read and Kismet's Kiss was the book that finally got me onto the Kindle application and now the Kindle device. This story was just too intriguing to miss.
Profile Image for Ashley.
129 reviews40 followers
August 18, 2016
My Review:

The Plot:

Kuramos, the Great Sultan of Kad, is in the midst of a nightmare when a deadly illness strikes his palace killing his trusted mentor and threatening the lives of his wives and children. After a freak accident takes the life of his Royal Physician, robbing Kuramos of a cure, the sultan's desperate need forces him to seek help from the rival realm of Teganne. A culture steeped in vile magic, the Tegannese people are scorned by Kaddites but when left with no other options Kuramos will subject himself to the scourge magic users if it'll save his precious family.

Wanting to distract herself from the recent and painful loss of the man she loved, a man who tragically never knew that he held her heart, Varene na Seryn grudging accepts Kuramos's demand the she attend to his family. Amplifying Varene's phycisians' knowledge is her kyrra, a soul magic that allows her the power to heal her patients. Given only a handful of details from the Kad messenger, Varene warily knows that she's facing an illness completely unknown to her and while the Kaddites themselves culturally disturb her, Varene is a healer and she'll not let anything prevent her from saving lives if it's in her power to do so.

Two radically opposing cultures clash violently as a battle of wills erupts the very moment Kuramos and Varene meet yet a grudging respect blooms early between them both as well despite their attempts to remain guarded. Disturbed by the renowned culture of Kad, a culture that venomously hates Teganne, Varene begins her journey already on the defense. Like a fantasy romance feminist, Varene is deeply disgusted by the disrespect shown to women, most importantly she's deeply disturbed by the fact that Kuramos has six wives. Knowing that each woman claims only one-sixth of their husband while he gets them all grates heavily on her morals and strong belief that a marriage exists between two souls not seven.

In contrast, Kuramos's people have gripped the boundaries of their realm through sheer human force. Shunning magic out of a deeply revered respect for their gods, the true and rightful users of magic, Kad rejects the Tegannese empowered mages and sorcerers. And while their matrimonial arrangements may disgust neighboring realms, harems are a long standing cultural aspect of Kad. Kuramos's wives have secured much needed alliances and peace amongst the powerful families of Kad.

With their cultural differences blazing between them, Kuramos and Varene pull and push at each other, peeling back layers of their souls with each turbulent encounter. With his family near death, Kuramos grants Varene all the power she needs within his palace to cure his beloved. Watching her work with mesmerizing intensity, Kuramos begins to admit a lust filled longing within himself for the unconventional Tegannese healer. Varene's wits and sharp intellect engages his mind and his body. Likewise, Varene begins to feel a deep seeded but unwanted yearning for the man that already has six wives. Berating herself for her vile lust, she does what she can to maintain distance but when a skillful hunter such as Kuramos senses prey in its sights, he'll not give up until he's claimed every piece of her soul.

The Heroine:

A wounded soul who reminds herself constantly with a worn ring upon her finger that to dally with love can only lead to heartache and death, Varene staunchly clings to the past and the lessons it wrought upon her life. For decades she loved a man from afar because to stick her neck out and declare her affections would have meant that she learned nothing. So Varene allows herself the safety of a crush only to feel acute despair with the fact that he dies never knowing she loved him. Fresh from that heartache, Varene encounters the magnetic force that is Kuramos and for the first time in her life she feels passion and a boundless love. Sadly, she falls once again for a man that she can't have. He's married, to six women no less and the last thing that Varene would ever do is destroy the lives of the women the way she had once been destroyed so long ago.

Shielding her heart and locking her true self beneath the mask of the Tegannese Royal Healer, Varene gifts only herself to her patients and her active feminist views. Rash and impetuous, Varene rushes headlong into many a disaster in Kad because of her strong belief that she should be treated as an equal. This same heedless behavior overflows into her dealings with Kuramos but lucky for her, he's in love with her and her spunk.

The Hero:

Charismatic and fierce as his sultanate demands, Kuramos is a force that's felt throughout the realm of Kad. Strong and muscular with piercing green eyes, he's both angered and enamored with Varene's constant rebellion that he as Sultan of Kad demands as his very right. The woman won't even bow to him! She infuriates him but instead of igniting his ire she only serves to fan the flames of his desire.

Yet like Varene, Kuramas masks his true self from the world. He's a family man full of compassion. He takes excellent care of his wives whom he respects and cherishes. At his core is a man of spartan needs but yet he holds court in the lavish appointments his sultanate dictates. The only true blight on his soul is the guilt and despair for the children he's lost. He's a good man, a caring man and while he wants Varene, never once does he force her to submit to his needs or his sultanate.

My Final Thoughts:

KISMIT'S KISS, while an enjoyable read, I must admit to having a difficult time staying engaged with the characters and their plight. The book never grabbed me, it never took me along for the ride within its clutches. Funnily enough, I like Varene and I like Kuramos. They're well told, multi-dimensional characters. The setting is lavish and richly detailed painting a clear picture of Kad's colorful vegetation, clothing and architecture. Even the sand of the deserts surrounding Kad glittered in my mind's eye as it did for its inhabitants. In addition, the author wrapped up every single plot arc with no stone left unturned. So why didn't this book work for me? I'm narrowing it down to Varene's feminist attitude and Kuramos's six wives.

Contrary to what most modern day women of today represent - equal rights, equal pay, equal respect, in a romance novel it's the last type of attitude I want to read about in a heroine. Hypocritical for sure but while I desire a strong and self assured heroine, I don't enjoy one that flings ingrained customs and culture out the window to make a point that she is above that. Varene's antics get old and while I enjoyed the bi-play between her and Kuramos as a result of her actions, at times I just found her to be downright childish.

However, I did agree fully with Varene's disgust over Kuramos and his harem no matter that it is the custom of Kad but the outcome of Varene's disgust and the result of Kuramos's love simply felt wrong. It's a known fact that romance readers don't always receive a cheating husband well and while Kuramos's situation is rather unconventional, I'm of the feeling that the rule still applies to him. He has six wives, children with each of them. Having a harem is the Sultan's right as well an ingrained aspect of Kad culture yet he'll throw it all away simply because Varene won't share? What if he falls in love with someone later? It's safe to reason that he could for he's a man used to getting everything he wants. I just don't find him trustworthy and likewise I'm somewhat sickened that Varene would demand what she does of Kad's Sultan and its culture. It seemed selfish and unfair that she would want him to give up his family as the requirement to claim her heart.

And finally, I don't necessarily understand the whole point of the fantasy elements used in this novel. For one, they take a complete backseat to the romance. And to get right down to my whole dilemma, I honestly don't see the point in having these characters live centuries-long lives. Fine, let them be magic users, at least that aspect had a role in the plot, but the immortal lives just felt like an additive for genre sake.

Despite my own misgivings with this read, I can easily understand why others will and do receive it in a better, more favorable light. A powerful and charismatic ruler bends to the will of a foreign woman, a woman who defies and overturns centuries long customs, all in the name of love. Its romantic for sure. I just can't let go of my own hang ups....

3.5 Stars

Profile Image for Paisley Owl.
3 reviews
February 27, 2011

We shouldn’t even mention that this book is self-published, and the only reason we are is because this book has made us optimistic that good, talented authors can find a way to get their books to market regardless of the health of the industry or the often depressing terms of Ebook houses. Really, we’ve come across releases from large, brick and mortar publishing houses and spotted typos and grammatical errors aplenty, but were hard pressed to see anything less than editorial perfection from Kismet’s Kiss.

This story is a long one and not in a bad way—only that Ms. Rowan makes you earn the relationship between the sultan Kuramos and the healer Varene. It doesn’t’ happen quickly, they don’t jump into bed and with six wives and a deadly disease spreading through the palace, the story does a great job establishing its priorities. (Kind of like real life—in the midst of your closest circle dying off, you don’t exactly get swept away by passion for a stranger directly upon meeting. You want them to save your family!)

There’s conflict and then there’s more conflict. There’s conflict between the two cultures who now stand toe to toe in crisis. Magic vs. faith. Woman vs. society. Cultural marriage norms vs. contradictory views. Man vs. woman. Sultan vs. subject. It’s all in there and it really pushes the plot along through every single of the 352 pages. (On our nook, anyway! Your page count may vary!)

The narrative is strong and the only reason the book lost a point in the mechanics department was the occasional head-hopping episode. We are more forgiving of the occasional, unexpected jaunt from hero to heroine without scene breaks, but there was an occasion or two when we were suddenly lifted out of one of those two points of view and placed directly in the head of a more secondary character. Just a pet peeve of ours, but did not detract from the story enough to punish the book too harshly!

Reading experience:
Like many of the reviewers out there who spoke of Kismet’s Kiss, we were wary once we got the whole picture. A man with six wives? Falling for a beautiful healer who believes in monogamy? Now how on (their) Earth would this work out? And would we even be rooting for it to?

Well, it does. And we did. And it was beautiful.

On top of the magical love story, this is a book that takes you so far out of your own world, you should have a passport.

Talking bird men (who we hope return in the subsequent books! They were fantastic!) new worlds where people live for hundreds upon hundreds of years and look as sexy and smashing as the swarthy, mysterious Kuramos does, magical travel, healing magic, superstitions, palace intrigues…it’s all here and it’s woven together with a golden thread by Ms. Rowan who has left us wondering what’s next for the good people of Kaddite universe? Only the author knows and she’s not telling yet!
Profile Image for Veronica-Lynn Pit Bull.
554 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2016
I feel like I read Kismet’s Kiss under duress. It isn’t something I would ever pick up if left to my own devices. The hero has 6 wives. Six. He almost had a seventh, but she escaped. Literally. Apparently he was a bit taken not only with # 7 but with his impression of his own attributes. But…KK was part of The Darkly Dreaming anthology, and the only story I had left to read to finish the entire book, and I have this annoying OCD thing that was niggling me to FINISH the entire book.

If it really sucked I would have stopped, but the first half was actually pretty interesting. It involved Varene, the Royal Healer of Teganne agreeing to travel to the almost-enemy realm of Kad upon the request of it’s Sultan Kuramos to help his household which was overcome by a strange epidemic. Teganne is a land of sorcery and mages and they use magic in their healing. The Kaddites revile magic, but Kuramos is desperate since 2 of his children and 2 (or 3 I forget) of his wives have fallen ill. Since Teganne and Kad are nowhere near each other, Kuramos sends a big-ass talking bird to deliver his message. The bird named Gunjan was one of my favorite characters.

The first half of the book revolves around Varene forming alliances, healing the ill and searching out the cause of the illness. There were actually only a couple of scenes involving both she and the Sultan; and the story was pretty interesting. Then the second half of the story switches to focus on the 3 day sprung out of nowhere insta-love romance and things go down hill because I just wasn’t feeling it.

In case I wasn’t clear before; Kuramos already has 6 wives (and had tried valiantly for a 7th) and 3 living children. Not to be judgemental but talk about used goods and a boatload of baggage. OK he was a good guy, very nice, decent chap, yadda yadda – about as appealing as a homeless man living in a dumpster behind Burger King because, HELLO – 6 wives. The wives for their part were an interesting bunch; and it was nice that 5 of the 6 were able to adequately “amuse themselves” (nudge & wink) since their husband had to spread himself so thin – but those Kaddites bless their souls are ever resourceful.

Then there’s some palace intrigue, and Varene again gets to save the day. There’s a secondary romance that’s sweet. There’s a reasonably satisfying to the world of romance resolution. It was very well written, and I can easily see where it will be a 5 star read for some - It just wasn’t for me because of the subject matter, and the romance did nothing to convince me otherwise.
Profile Image for ♡ Sassy ~ Amy ♡.
939 reviews88 followers
August 18, 2013
This was a very original read for me. It's set like an arabian folk lore tale, where a Sultan with a harem of wives is trying to save his family from a plague that is sweeping through his family...

Kuramos, the 200 year old Sultan Living in the realm of Kad, sends for the magic healer from an enemy land, to heal his family when his normal healer dies from an accidental fall resulting with a head injury. Verane is the beautiful strong proud magical healer who happens to be a woman... Uh Oh!

Kuramos is the typical arabian-like Sultan in a magical realm where the traditions are typical of the era, but with the added dementional difference being a made up land, feuding families & vengeful godesses & vendictive people.

Kuramos wants Verane... He already has 6 wives. One has the son who will eventually take over his position making the mother quite important as well, and that woman wants that position...Verane has a problem with their culture differences, but learns how great Kuramos really is.

It's quite a long story... excellently written... Very original... And even though I was trying to figure out if he was going to get rid of the other 6 wives to have Verane... it worked.

The character development was great, the feel of the times/realm were very well described...

I can go on and on, but I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts on this book... I guess, that if you can flow with & accept the harem, it's a great book. I wasn't quite so accepting so I kept thinking the author would go my way & get rid of them... Oh well! LOL!!

Profile Image for Marie Hélène.
Author 4 books9 followers
October 5, 2013
I really enjoyed narrating this story. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for any story with magical healers and haughty kings getting cut down to size. As long as it's well-written, of course. :-)
Profile Image for Kristy Mills.
1,739 reviews38 followers
October 23, 2017
Varene is a healer from Teganne. She gets a message from a neighboring kingdom that they need her help. This neighbor is not necessarily on the best of terms with Teganne and both kingdoms are weary of each other. But Varene can't help but answer the call to heal people. She does not expect to get there and fall in love with the ruthless Sultan, or for him to be so caring and selfless at times. But she does, which is a problem 6 times over. Not only is this man royalty and descendant to his people's gods. He is taken. By his 6 wives. What possible future could Varene have with man like that?

I was curious about how this book would end happily. I was wary but curious enough to read it anyway. The storytelling was wonderful. I couldn't put it down. I read until 4:30 in the morning to finish it. I was happy with the ending. I think it ended in the only way it could possibly end and make everyone happy. The only problem was I didn't feel 100% satisfied. And I think it stemmed from the whole idea of him having so many wives and children to begin with. I have trouble enjoying books where the hero has an ex-wife or kids with another woman, so I think that is what kept me from feeling completely satisfied. It just really rubbed me the wrong way every time he called out "Wives" especially after he declared his love to Varene. That just hurt me a little bit for her.
July 11, 2019
Fun Fantasy Romance

I have never been a reader of romance novels before but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it is part of a series it can also stand alone without loosing any part of the story. The author takes you on a journey between different “realities” or worlds with the main character being transported from one to another to help because she is a Healer. She experiences attitudes that one could even relate to in today’s terms as bigotry a fear that has been taught. It is a positive story, don’t get me wrong! I recommend it!
Profile Image for Norma.
653 reviews
October 29, 2019

I liked this story quite a bit, I read it straight through. Cate Rowan is quickly becoming one of my favorite Fantasy Romance authors
27 reviews
July 11, 2020
Great Fun

This book is full of comedy, pathos and a real twist at the end. It proves that true love will conquer all.
Profile Image for Adellis.
511 reviews13 followers
September 28, 2020
It took me a while to get over my "norm" how many people should be in a relationship, but the story is really sweet and I liked it a lot in the end!
May 23, 2022

I enjoyed this book very much. I look forward to more from this author. Twists and turns with a little mystery too
Profile Image for Sarz.
476 reviews12 followers
April 20, 2017
Huge dèja vu

All the way through this, I kept thinking that I had read it before, and yet there's no trace of it on my Kindle. I'm wondering if it has been published under a different name previously? Regardless, I enjoyed the story, and have lost sleep to finish it, which is always the sign of a good book.
Profile Image for Sarah Gonzalez.
207 reviews38 followers
September 6, 2011
I will admit, I did not really know what I was getting myself into when I cracked open Kismet’s Kiss. I knew I loved the cover (shallow, I know) and I thought the premise sounded interesting enough. I will be the first to admit, this book absolutely soared beyond my expectations. I loved every minute of it and I had to physically pry myself away from it.

My first fascination lies within the setting. Rowan provides us with a rich, luscious and undeniably intriguing world. I was instantly captivating by the descriptions and I found it easy to craft an image in my mind. I will admit, I did have brief, fleeting visions of Aladdin running around, especially in the market.

I read in a forum that Rowan took inspiration from The King and I. Looking back, I can see that connection quite clearly, and I am rather surprised I did not make it myself. The relationship between Varene and the Sultan has the same will they or won’t they/should they or shouldn’t they aspect. The characters themselves also vaguely resembled that of Anna and the King. Both couples are incredibly strong willed and refused to be pushed around. Both Anna and Varene have a difficult time grasping and accepting the status of women in their new society and they both are loved more by their men for it.

The relationship between Varene and the Sultan was surely a remarkable one. I think what I enjoyed most about it was that they were equals. Even in a society that looked down on and objectified women, Varene refused to be anything less than herself. She was a strong, empowered woman and like me, the Sultan was completely taken with her.

The fact that there is something brewing between Varene and Kuramos wasn’t all that surprising (it is a romance book people). Still, Rowan was able to keep me guessing on whether or not our two star crossed lovers would end up together. You see, not only do they hail from warring countries, but Kuramos is already married… to six women. As you might imagine, Varene isn’t too keen on sharing. Things don’t work quite like that in her homeland. I honestly did not know how things would end, I didn’t even know how I wanted the chips to settle. I wanted them together, but I did not want Varene to simply be one of Kuramos’ women. But then, I didn’t want anything to happen to his other wives or children. I actually liked them as characters. So, as you can imagine, my emotions and predictions were all over the place.

There was only one aspect of the story that I can remember really questioning. None of the Sultan's wives seem are the least bit possessive of him. Well, that's not true - one of them is, but she simply wants to secure her sons ascension to the throne. She doesn't want the sultan out of love. I cannot imagine that none of his wives actually loved him. As you read the book, you come to see that he is truly a wonderful catch. It doesn't make sense that they wouldn't love him, and therefore be jealous and possessive. In fact, they actually seem to want to share. Can you imagine sharing someone you loved?

When I began reading Kismet’s Kiss, I expected a light, slightly steamy romance. What I got was infinitely better. Kismet’s Kiss is intriguing, thought-provoking and addicting. The storyline keeps you interested and on-edge. The descriptive setting keeps you marveling. And the romance keeps you hoping for a miracle. There is excitement, love and magic around every corner. I cannot wait to read more of this series, I just hope that Rowan returns to these characters.
Profile Image for Jeannie Zelos.
2,801 reviews50 followers
July 14, 2013
Kismet's Kiss: A Fantasy Romance. Alaia Chronicles. Cate Rowan.

ARC supplied by Netgalley.
Sometimes I just want a book that's going to transport me to another world, something light and easy and a fun romance. Kismet's Kiss did just that. I've never read or seen all of the King and I, but this book is in many ways reminiscent of it in that the Sultan has six wives and several children and yet he and Varenne have an instant attraction and yet...in her culture its one wife one husband.
Kuramos the Sultan sends a request to another realm for a healer to help him. Many of the royal household, including some of his wives and children, have been taken ill and some have died already. Their healer has died in an accident and he desperately needs help with this mystery illness. Teganne, where healer Varenne comes from, is not a realm with which Kuramos' realm is on good terms. They use magic, his realm has outlawed it for centuries and see it as dangerous but he's desperate for help and Varenne goes, because as a healer she pledges to help anyone regardless of situation.
There's an instant attraction between Kuramos and Varenne, but she's pretty disgusted at the culture which allows multiple wives and sees women as lesser beings, and he thinks she's rude and badly dressed. He's amazed too at seeing a female healer, he was expecting a man. She doesn't give him the respect he thinks is his due, says what she thinks regardless of whether its courteous and the two clash on many occasions, and yet over time see another side to each other. She learns that his wives were not by choice exactly but more of a political necessity shoring up alliances (though being a very sensual, sexual man it helps that they're all beauties!), and he sees that women can have educated opinions and be more than just decorative child bearers.
I enjoyed the scene setting, felt I was there with the people of the palace. The main characters were interesting, loved Varenne's “mouthiness” and of course who couldn't love Kuramos, handsome, charismatic and sexy, and with a warm, generous nature...six wives? Pah, no problem :) The mystical side isn't heavy, some magic , six legged horse type creatures, along with Jencels, a type of intelligent talking bird and long lives for all the people really sum it up. It worked well though, and made for a light easy relaxing read. The story line was basic but held my interest, and of course in a romance I love a HEA so that was good – I wondered how on earth Cate was going to overcome the problem of six wives ( they didn't get killed off thankfully ) but she did it successfully. I did get irritated with both Kuramos and Varenne at times, each were so intransigent about the others culture, but in the end it all worked out well, and allowed a better understanding of each peoples realm and beliefs. Maybe its something we all need to try, that looking at things from another persons view!
Its a decent read at 260 pages for £2.51 so comes in well in my VFM scale at under 1p per page. Its not one I'm likely to re read, unless I want another foray into something light and easy, usually its the deeper books I keep, but it was an enjoyable novel.
Stars: four – a real escape into another world, people with magic and romance.
Profile Image for Celia.
49 reviews11 followers
May 12, 2011
Storyline: It’s like the King and I with a lot less singing and a whole lot more sexy. Cate Rowan has spun a fabulous Middle Eastern romantic fantasy with Kismet’s Kiss.

The Great Sultan Kuramos is facing down an enemy that even the most mighty of warriors and greatest of kings cannot overcome: a disease born of a goddess’ curse. This mysterious plague has sickened many members of the royal family and there seems to be no hope until he reaches out to a neighboring realm of Teganne - known for its great healers and magic.

The Royal Healer Varene na Seryn is as talented and stubborn as she is beautiful. Combining her healing knowledge and magic, she must overcome the sickness that is taking the Sultan’s family and servants one by one.

Can Sultan Kuramos and the Healer Varene overcome their differences to save the royal family? Will his strange customs and distrust of magic be the wedge that keeps these two apart or will it draw them together as the fates so will it?

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed a few errors; I would recommend another good read through by a beta reader.

Character Development: As a strong-willed (ok, really, I’m more “stubborn” than “strong-willed” because I have very little will power when it comes to chocolate…I mean, really… It’s quite sad.) woman myself, I can absolutely relate to the Royal Healer’s refusal to play second (or even seventh) fiddle to an old fashioned custom that puts the man in charge.

Not only am I the Queen of Commas, I am also the Empress of Mixed Signals and Kismet’s Kiss was definitely a story of two ships passing in the night. That being said, throughout Kismet’s Kiss Varene and Kuramos are definitely wandering over into my Land of Confusion (not to be confused with that great Genesis track) and you are left wondering if they’re ever going to get it together.

Writing Style: The story quickly grabs the reader’s interest and pulls the reader through the sensuous and magical desert land of Kad. Ms. Rowan’s fantasy world is unique and mysterious. I really felt like I was transported (possibly via magic carpet) into a land of endless desert and talking jencel-birds.

Even though this is a romance novel, the love scenes are actually few and far between; so even the most modest of readers could enjoy Kismet’s Kiss.

Continuity: No issues with continuity.
Overall Rating: 4+

Ms. Cate Rowan’s novel, Kismet’s Kiss, was a breath of fresh air with a whole new world (HA! Like I could resist swiping a line from Disney’s Aladdin! You’d have been sad and disappointed if I wrote this entire review without mentioning it at least once. Admit it.) set in the very ancient world of the Middle East.

I encourage all of you lady folks to read this one (and maybe even you men folks can read it too… I won’t judge you…) and get lost in a sexy world of love, magic and mystery.
121 reviews7 followers
April 8, 2012
I purchased this one when Allromance had its 50% rebate campaign recently. And I am glad I did.
I fell in love, with Varenne and Kuranos, also with the world of Alaia.   Or more correctly, the country of Kad. Each detail fit my image of live in a palace.   From the reverence of the servants,  to the camaderie between the Sultanas
What made me grit my teeth were the fact that women were viewed as subservient.   Which made it an extra  interesting to watch their reaction when they discover that a woman ( gasp!) is the Royal Healer of Teganne. I admired Varenne's courage for coming, yet it is one of many signs that she is a healer to the heart.  From the start of the book  Varenne and Kuranos butts head regularily.  Varenne being to much of a Teg to give Kuranos the deferrence he is used to. Not to mention giving in to her attraction, and becoming a member of his harem. 
What I loved, were that the first part of the novel focused on the cure.  And everyone around her, from the other Physicians to the courtiers are suspicious of her. Even the sultan. 
One thing I appreciated, were the fact that the cure weren't something mysterious that only magic could solve. Yes, Varenne used her gifts, but to ease the suffering. She couldn't cure it with a snap of her fingers.  But, she does find out a cure, using her common sense.   
The events in the first part, eased the way to their HEA.  In fact, I appreciated the later half more. Seeing the camaderie between the wives.  The smiling children.  
And scenes between Varenne and Kuranos. How she gently convince him to start living again. 
The combined result of this, is that Varenne grows used to Kad, and that Kad gets used to Varenne.
I'll admit that at times I wondered if the obstacles were to great for them to give them a Happily ever after.   I admire Kurannos wives for stepping forward, for making the offer.  And, fittingly, it was the most ambitious of them who found a way. 

So, what I didn't like. 
The one thing that I had most trouble with were the fact that people in Aiaia live much longer than humans on earth.  I started the first time I read that someone were 100 years old.     
Then there were the supporting characters.  They felt... shallow. On  the other hand, this were Varenne and Kuranos story, and having the other wives taking to much place would have been wrong. That said, I look forward to reading more tales by Cate Rowan.
Profile Image for Lori Dillon.
Author 3 books34 followers
October 17, 2011
KISMET’S KISS is the sequel to THE SOURCE OF MAGIC (which is a good book too). Ms. Rowan published KISS first, so I read it first. While both books take place in the same magical realm and involve some of the same characters, they each stand on their own.

Sexual Chemistry:
The first time they meet, Varene and Kuramos are instantly attracted to each other, whether they want to be or not. However, there are major hurdles in their way. In the beginning, Kuramos is appalled that he must rely on a infidel woman and her magic to save his family. He is chauvinistic and, along with just about everyone else in his kingdom, he treats her with arrogance and distain. Varene is used to being treated as an equal, as an intelligent woman and a gifted healer. They are constantly butting heads until she shows him the error of his ways. However there’s still another teensy, weensy problem…

Kuramos has 6 wives already. Count ‘em, 6! That’s unheard of in traditional romance publishing. The golden rule handed down from NY is the hero must be single (either a bachelor, widower, or divorced) and – heaven forbid -- he cannot even think of sleeping with someone else once he’s laid eyes on the heroine. I couldn’t wait to see how Rowan was going to write her way out of that one. (She does! And no, she doesn't kill off all the wives.)

Both Kuramos and Varene have them and Rowan does an excellent job of sprinkling clues throughout the story. There’s also court intrigue afoot and the cause of the strange illness afflicting Kuramos’s royal house. Is it a curse or something else? Usually I can figure these things out early on but the author kept me guessing until the end.

Gunjan, the talking bird, is a riot!

What makes this book standout:
This book was a 2007 and 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Finalist. It is also the first Indie book I ever read. When I saw the quality of the writing and the originality of the storyline, I had to wonder how on earth this book never sold. Actually, I do know. Ms. Rowan is a rule breaker. She writes stories that don’t fit into the NY box and they’re all the better for it.
Profile Image for Marc.
Author 8 books58 followers
May 5, 2011
Kismet's Kiss was a very good romance book. It was written very well and I liked how the relationship between the characters were done. It touched me from time to time while reading it especially with the whole will she, won't she thing. The world was described very well. I'm having a very hard time, trying to say good things about the book. I want to make it clear that it was a good book. As you can tell, there's a 'but' coming.

When it came to the magic of the world, I was a bit confused. I liked Verene's use of magic. That made sense and didn't feel overly powerful. When it came to mages, their magic seemed a bit too powerful as if it had no rules or boundaries. I also didn't understand why Verene and Kuramos lived for centuries. Verene, I could kind of understand but I didn't understand why Kuramos was so long lived. I don't think it was necessary as it didn't seem to affect matters.

But I could live with those things. There were two things that really bothered me. Something that bothers me in general is when characters use the 'L' word too soon. My favorite romantic movies don't use it for months. When it's a week or a few days, I'm completely taken out. Maybe it's because I have no love life and am a cynical bastard.

Once I got past that, I was enjoying the book again until I got to the ending. How can I say it without spoiling it? OK, what happened was like one of those movies where the newspaper boy or deliveryman appears for five seconds, and turns out he's behind it all. I didn't thinking having a reason behind it all was necessary, or a reason that was fleshed out more.

I enjoyed Cate's writing style enough and her fully fleshed out characters to read something by her again.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,133 reviews187 followers
October 14, 2010
Kuramos, the Great Sultan of Kad has a huge dilemma on his hands. His people have fallen deadly ill. Kuramos does not know what to do. Kuramos is directed to send for a healer. Kuramos hopes the healer can help as the healer could possibly be Kuramos and his peoples last chance.

Varene na Seryn is the royal healer of Teganne. When Varene receives the summons that Kuramos requires a healer, she knows it must be some mistake. Varene is right. When she arrives in Kuramos court, he is taken by surprise as he was exciting the healer to be a man and not a woman. Can Varene convince Kuramos that she is the right woman for the job?

Kismet’s Kiss is book one of the Women of Kismet. I have to admit that when I first went to start reading this book I was a bit leery. This is because this book is not me typical reading genre, though I was willing to give it a try. Boy am I so glad that I did. This book was so good that I forgot that I was sitting at my computer reading a full length novel. Though, at first I while reading this book I was a bit lost. I didn’t really know what was happening. Once I was able to figure things out, I was able to enjoy this book.

I found Varene to be very nice and interesting. She had a lot to prove as a female healer and I thought she proved herself well. I have to admit that the person who surprised me the most was Kuramos. For a king, he was very caring towards his people, which made him endearing. Kismet’s Kiss is a k-i-s-s-a-b-l-e read filled with magic, intrigue and romance!
Profile Image for Lady Raven RAVE!.
1,827 reviews1,128 followers
June 26, 2011
Now I know I gave this book 3 stars but I liked it draws you In From the moment you start reading. Kad I was kind of wireded out with the 5 wives thing but it goes well with this story . Loved Varene, they are both from fueding sides but needed her help to heal his people who are sick but with all the issues they face they seem to connect with each other and the rest they say is history. Like I said not a bad read but it wasnt a great read for me also. The author incorporated a lot of elements in this story even though it had an aribian feel to it.

PS: it's a very long read so if your tolerance is low then it's not for you, I'm only saying that because you know some readers might say it took too long to connect or get into.

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Profile Image for Deanna from Deanna's World.
780 reviews47 followers
April 23, 2011
I had very high hopes for this book but for whatever reason could not get into it. There are a number of factors associated with that, I guess, including, the fact that it was very Middle Easters / Arabian Nights and I did not like the setting, there was not much focus on the fantasy aspects of this story and the fact that the hero was already married.

I did, however, like the hero's character and who he was as a person. I totally understand where he was coming from as a person and also culturally and politically.

Sadly, this book didn't work for me and I abandoned it after reading approximately 80% of the book when I realised I just really did not care what happened to them and how it ended. I tried several times to get to the end and just could not.

I think it's worse when one is totally indifferent and didn't care at all for a book, rather than just hating it. At least, if I hated it, it would have elicited some emotion from me.

Two stars, because it was a DNF and because I actually got through approx 80% of the book.
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