A Stella Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine? Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach. In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Each time I read a new story by August Li I am in awe by the author’s talent. I already said this but he is one of my favorite authors and his name has become a guarantee, I don’t even read blurbs anymore, I simply go in fan mode and just need the book in my hands. When I saw the cover of this new release, I was very curious about it. Nomad’s Dream is very different from my usual mm readings, starting with the setting and the main characters. Plus I found this novel a little different from what the author usually writes, it was more sweet and romantic, not too much, just that little bit more that perfectly balanced the magical and mysterious part.

The story is set in the desert for two third’s and I completely lost myself among the bedouins tribes, the camels and the dunes. I was deeply engaged with Janan mystery and the love for Isra. I found everything so real and true although the magical elements and the character of Flicker (I adored him and never doubted of his attachment to Isra).

I have to confess my heart went to Isra since the first pages, I saw his clear soul, his loyalty and devotion to his family and himself. I saw how troubled he was until he finally reached the man that was hunting his dreams. And then my heart ached for Janan, being so lost and poor and later seeing him flourishing beside Isra was very heartwarming.

The author developed a beautiful plot, there is some action, some mystery, and then there are many times where Isra and Janan are alone in the desert that were my preferred moments. He did a so great job I breathed the peace they were living. I fell in love with quite a few secondary characters too, some of them would deserve their own HEA, they were well defined and interesting, all of them so brave and generous.

I feel to recommend Nomad’s Dream, in my opinion the author delivered another amazing success. I felt a sense of loss when I finished the novel but it gave me some serenity I needed.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is well done, I like the colors and it perfectly fits the book.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Nomad’s Dream
ISBN 139781644050149
Edition Language English

A Caryn Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

How do I describe this book?  It’s romance and adventure, a sprinkling of poetry and wisdom, a generous dash of fantasy and magic, all set upon the primal struggle between good and evil.  In short, amazing!

Isra is a Bedouin, a true creature of the desert in a way that transcends time (and initially had me thinking this was a historical book).  Granted, this book presents a very romanticized, Western view of the Bedouin culture, but the interaction between Isra and other people, and between Isra and the desert, gave an amazing depth to his character.  He knew he was attracted to men, and had resigned himself to being alone and refusing to take a wife, but he wasn’t truly lonely.  The desert provided him with all the nurturing he needed.

He had another secret from his clan members, and that was his friend Flicker, an arafrit, a creature of fire and air, who came to Isra from time to time, and with whom he shared all of his deepest thoughts and desires.  When Isra started to have recurrent dreams of searching, that eventually culminated in the face of a man, he turned to Flicker for help.  Flicker led him to an ancient temple, then disappeared.  And Isra found the man he’d been dreaming of – a beggar, a man with no name, no memories.  Isra bestowed the name Janan upon him, meaning heart, and took him to his home.

For Isra, taking this man into his home and into his protection felt destined.  And despite Janan’s distressing amnesia, he could feel that Janan was a good man.  They grew close, and then they fell in love.  They would have been content to continue living with the Bedouin, but Janan continually had a feeling of something left undone, some person left behind, and tantalizing but enigmatic glimpses of who he used to be, that would not leave him at peace.  He and Isra enlisted Flicker to help them find the secret of Janan’s past and identity, and set off on a quest to recover his memory.

I haven’t read an MM romance in this setting before, and I loved how the dedication was to “a certain Publisher and Chief Development Officer who lamented the lack of sexy sheikh submissions”.  I am sure that person is fully satisfied with this submission.  Both men are sexy, but more than that, they are truly heroic, although in a quiet, humble way.  They came across as authentically muslim, but from an Islam that is quite different from the fundamentalist sects that we in the western world associate with terrorism.  The desert itself is almost another character in the book as well, a place of stillness, potential, and abundant life to those who know how to find it.  In Isra’s words, life in the desert “granted freedom and, maybe even better, time.  Making a living didn’t cost a man’s every waking moment….One could ruminate on the meaning of life and God and fate and love and feel nothing had been wasted.” Even through the violence and danger the men encountered  as they found and confronted the person who ripped Janan’s life away, there was still a sense of the vast and eternal desert biding its time until the men returned.  My own personal experience of the desert included scorching heat and scorpions, and I am absolutely not a fan, but this book almost made me want to try it again – the writing was just that good.  Again, in Isra’s words:  “Stories are important.  They tether us to the past, to our place in time and the world.  They help us understand life and ourselves.”

Overall, highly recommended.  This is an author I will be looking for more from!

Cover art by Tiferet Design is perfect for the “sexy sheikh” the author was going for.  I pictured both MC’s a little scruffier myself, but this works…

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: January 29th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Nomad’s Dream
ISBN 139781644050149
Edition Language English