Sunday, 26 April 2020

Review: Queen of Barrakesch by Delaney Diamond | #RoyalBrides

Queen of Barrakesch (Royal Brides #3)
They had no idea how much their lives would change…forever.

Imani Karunzika is fiercely independent and refuses to be forced into a loveless marriage with the domineering man her parents want for her. When her friend Crown Prince Wasim al-Hassan of Barrakesch learns he’ll be passed over for the throne because he has no wife, she suggests a plan where they enter into a fake engagement. He can then secure his birthright, and she can get her parents off her back.

But the marriage must proceed as planned. Wasim becomes the king, she becomes the queen and is now under the rule of a man whose power and authority is unmatched. But Imani’s greatest struggle lies not within the walls of the palace, but inside herself as she fights to keep the ultimate secret—that she’s madly in love with the king.

I enjoyed this story, but this review was hard to write, because for everything I liked, there seemed to be something that didn't particularly work for me. So here goes...

Imani and Wasim are friends who shared one steamy kiss about a year ago. Smart and fiercely independent, Imani wants to be valued for her brain rather than her marriageability or child-bearing potential. She's also a romantic at heart and wants to marry for love. Wasim, the crown prince of Barrakesch, is everything you expect from a rich and entitled alpha male, but he has a soft side that is clear to see.

With the threat of arranged marriages looming over both their heads, a fake engagement seems like a good plan. Everyone who matters seems to be happy with this turn of events. Things get interesting when time comes to call off the engagement. A little blackmail goes a long way to move them from engaged to married.

The romance is sweet, and the sex scenes are sizzling. Barrakeschi cultural practices are seamlessly woven into the narration. If you like vivid description of settings, then you'll particularly enjoy the wedding scene.

I liked that racism isn't an issue in this story despite Imani being African and Wasim being Arab. Religion, on the other hand, is introduced as a major conflict with Imani being Christian and Wasim being Muslim. However, for the number of times it is mentioned prior to their marriage, it never really becomes a point of conflict.

Given the aforementioned blackmail, I expected Imani and Wasim's relationship to be volatile. For a heroine who is described as fiercely independent, I felt Imani succumbed too easily to Wasim's charms (in her defence, he was charming).

There's also a plot twist that seemed unnecessary, because all it does (IMO) is to discredit arranged marriages, which in this particular case shouldn't have been the case.

Overall, I enjoyed this story very much. Delaney Diamond's fluid writing style moves things along at an even pace. Wasim and Imani are well-matched. It was a thrill to see the main characters from the first two books and find out what's happening with them post-HEA.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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