Author: Susanna Carr
Release Date: 7 August 2012
Number of pages: 192 pages
Source: review copy provided by the author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository
Grade: 4 stars
Goodreads appetizer: Jeweled veil weighing heavily on her head, Zoe Martin waits for her sheikh husband-to-be. The shame of her adoptive family, orphan Zoe has endured six years of being kept as a slave—now she's been sold into marriage…to a man known as The Beast!
Being discarded to the sheikh has one bonus—this could mean freedom! Zoe must play along with the three-day—and three-night—ceremony, but she isn't expecting the blazing attraction from just one stolen glance at playboy sheikh Nadir...
My thoughts: As I’ve already confessed, I’ve come a long way from my snob bookish upbringing where romance novels weren’t permitted reading material, and I’m very glad that I gave The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar a fair chance despite the typical Harlequin cover and characteristic title, it is a little gem of a well written and captivating story that I enjoyed a lot.
Zoe is a strong and determined heroine who despite pretending to be humble and obedient young woman to fit in with the expectations of the Arabic world still has a strong spine and a streak of willfulness that made her anything but weak or cowering. Despite the harsh and disappointing life she had I found it admirable she still had dreams and plans and wanted to honour her parents’ memory by taking care of those in need.
Nadir is a very authentic and credible hero. He oozes sexual charisma and power, but while he can be ruthless when it comes to protecting ideas dear to him he was a fair and kind man. His patience and honour in his dealings with Zoe made him a hero the reader could grow fond of.
I have always been fascinated with the exciting Arabic culture ever since I discovered the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, but the couple exotic category romances I tried in the past years fell flat due to the authors’ inability of portraying a foreign world and culture in an authentic and believable way. And although Susanna Carr showed us a modern prince who has progressive ideas, and most of the story took place in the Occident, I think that the hero’s character still retained something inherently traditional and in his portrayal Susanna Carr interestingly combined the possessive archaic male and the modernizer.
His love and dedication for Zoe was heart-squeezing:
"Zoe,"he said in a low pleading tone. He rested his forehead against hers. "I make sacrifices every day to perform my duty. I've given up a lot to fulfill my destiny. But I won't give up you."
The writing flew smoothly and I enjoyed that Susanna Carr used descriptions which helped paint the colourful exotic setting and made me picture sand dunes and hot winds:
International businesses accused him of being as devious as a jackal when he thwarted their attempts to steal Jazaar’s resources. Journalists declared that he enforced the Sultan’s law with the ruthless sting of a scorpion's tail.
Verdict: The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar is a captivating and exotic romance I enjoyed a lot! Don't let the cover and the typical title scare you away from this story, you would miss out on a heartwarming and lovely romance. I enjoyed Susanna Carr's descriptive and yet smooth writing style so I'll definitely check out her other books.
Characters: 7/10 this novel wasn’t really about the characters’ individual growth but the development and evolution of their relationship as a couple
Cover: 6/10 I'm not a fan of these traditional Harlequin covers, but it certainly fits the characters' description.