Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In June of 1978 Grady Ormond, eighteen-year-old son of diplomat Peter Ormond, accompanies his father to his new posting as US Ambassador to Pakistan. Neighboring Iran is on the brink of a civil war, with the monarchy in danger of being overthrown.
Grady will be leaving for New York City in late August to study cinematography and has been warned to keep his homosexual orientation tightly under wraps while on vacation. Repercussions in the predominantly Islamic region could be severe.
On their first night in Karachi, his father hosts a cocktail party to meet the local dignitaries. Grady is introduced to His Highness Prince Kamran Izadi, nephew of the shah of Iran. Twenty-three-year-old Kamran has recently returned from the UK, where he spent eleven years, first as a student, and then as a financial analyst.
The attraction is immediate—unforeseen and dangerously powerful—but neither one dares to make a move. Odds are so stacked against them it’s futile to even entertain a friendship, but they do, and their world tilts precariously.
With his country in turmoil and Grady about to leave for college, Kamran makes a decision that will change their lives forever.
First of all, I want to congratulate the author on braving such an unusual setting. It’s the number one reason why I picked this book up.
Okay, so I’m having a really hard time rating this book. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the setting and want to give this book 5 stars just for that. On the other hand, however, quite a few things in the story itself just didn’t work out for me.
For one, the whole story felt a little rushed. I get that Grady and Kam were on a deadline from the very beginning. They only have till the end of summer before they have to face their real adult lives. For Grady that means the start of his cinematographic studies at the renowned Tisch College in New York. For Kam, that means getting married to a woman he has never even seen before. But while I understand that feelings had to develop fast, I still would have liked for the protagonists to have more time to really and truly fall for each other. A somewhat slower progress from friends to lovers would have been nice.
I liked that a lot of the political and historical background was explained. I would’ve probably been a little lost without that. Unfortunately, Grady essentially got a lecture from his dad and it was a lot to take in at once. There was no slow interweaving of necessary information and plot, which is a bit of a shame.
You do need a certain basic knowledge of the political happenings in Iran. Nothing elaborate, the more complicated things are explained by Grady’s father. But in order to understand this extra information, you need a bit of previous knowledge to work with.
Now, I’m no expert on the history of Iran, but it did all feel very realistic to me. Grady really is essentially clueless about the political situation in the Middle East and has no real idea of even the most basic Muslim traditions, such as the five daily prayers or the ban of alcohol. And that’s what actually felt realistic to me. I really don’t think even the son of a well-travelled diplomat would know things like that in 1978.
I would have liked more scenes that didn’t solely revolve around Kam and Grady. More scenes about Grady getting to know Pakistan and the Middle East in general would have been interesting. But I guess that’s to be expected from a romance and I shouldn’t complain.
The ending felt a bit over the top. To me it seemed like Kam changed his mind very suddenly. A lot of drama followed. But I guess all that was necessary for Kam and Grady’s HEA.
I did really like the epilogue about Kam and Grady’s life together over the years. I think this would make an excellent sequel.
Overall, a few more pages probably wouldn’t have hurt to make the events feel less rushed. Still, the setting was intriguing and very unique. I really did want to love this. As it is, I’m torn between a rating of 3.5 and 4 stars. I think I’ll round it up to 4 for now, mostly for the great setting.
The cover by Catt Ford makes me feel just as torn as the story itself. On first glance, it looks a bit cheap. Once you’ve read the story, however, it does get a deeper meaning. Homing pigeon play an important role, so that works. Still, I can’t help but slightly dislike the cover. That pigeon looks very strange.
ebook, 200 pages
Published January 22nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634766792 (ISBN13: 9781634766791)