Rated 3 stars out of 5
Fathi is uber-rich, running the family business to the point where that is all he has – working. His grandfather doesn’t like that and when it turns out that Fathi has been betrothed since childhood to a woman from their region, what is he to do? He’s never come out to grandfather and he doesn’t want to lose his place in the company. Fathi went to college in New York and he worked out that he is gay but since Grandfather is an old school man from the Middle East, that wouldn’t be accepted. So he is quiet about it and look where it gets him. He ends up engaged to Ikraam, the victim of an abusive older system, who isn’t all he seems. The two of them are so confused when they are attracted to each other and the secrets are kept. You know that something has to give and eventually it does.
Let’s talk about Ikraam’s sister. Talk about devil spawn. She is completely evil. Not only did she try to marry off her niece to a rapist, but I wanted to much more to happen to her for the atrocities she committed to her brother. It was difficult at time to read the abuse Ikraam was put through by that evil witch. I was so glad that Fathi turned out to be a caring, responsible person. Even though he knew he wouldn’t be a true husband to his “wife”, he still wanted to take care of her and make her life a good one.
I did wonder how the fact that Ikraam has been raised and treated as a female (and a second class one at that) for all his life would be addressed but it really wasn’t. It was accepted and he would be she outside the home, he inside. In the culture this story is set that made me question the wisdom because if society there wouldn’t accept gay, are they going to accept this?
I can say something that brought down the rating for me was the treatment of Fathi’s secretary, an educated woman who worked hard, was very professional and did nothing wrong (other than fall in love with her boss) but who really was shamed by both Fathi and Ikraam by the end. Made me sad and made them less sympathetic. There aren’t any decent women portrayed here and to shame this poor woman just for being modern and trying to be something besides an ornament or abused was appalling.
The audiobook runs just over five hours and is narrated by Simon Ferrar. I felt he did a great job with differentiating voices and accents. I do think had I read this, as opposed to listening to it, my rating would have been lower. He brought life to the story and even the things that I had issues with.
The cover, by Bree Archer, shows the elegant Fathi against a desert background and fits my idea of what Fathi looked like.
Published March 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press