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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jewel of Persia

by Anita Mae Draper

Jewel of Persia by Roseanna M. White, WhiteFire Publishing, June 2011

This extraordinary book gives a fresh look at the politics between the wives and concubines at the highest level of a harem. Until I read Jewel of Persia, I never considered how things would work if the king loved one wife more than another. And I never considered what it would be like to be one of many wives if you truly loved the king as a man. How it would feel if you knew he continued to sleep with his other wives. That’s what I liked about this book… it gets right down to the core emotions as well as the social interactions involved.

The story centers around Kasia (ka-SEE-uh), the oldest daughter in a large Jewish family with not much money, but lots of love. One day she makes the mistake of speaking to a wealthy Persian and soon finds herself a concubine in the King of Persia’s harem. Her shamed parents tell her siblings and her friend, the young Esther that Kasia was swept down the river and with that lie, Kasia is cut away from the family she loves and begins her influential climb into the very heart of Xerxes (ZIRK-seez).

If you think this is just another story of Queen Esther’s life, think again, for the actual Biblical tale is only a very small portion of this book. I’ve read many books that marry Biblical truth with fictional characters, but none came close to the heart wrenching storylines in the Jewel of Persia. Using several point-of-views, we discover who is really telling the truth and who just seems to be. Who is willing to die for the king and who’d rather see him dead. Who is acting out of love and whose act of love is a screen for more sinister purposes.

Jewel of Persia is about good versus evil and light against darkness. Steadfast Kasia feels herself surrounded by God's presence as a light shining through the murky veil of evil. It's very effective in showing those who believe in God as the omnipotent Creator who loves and cares for them and those who put their faith in the god of darkness, Ahura Mazda.

This was the first book I read from this author and although I received it as a gift for review purposes, any books by Roseanna M. White in this genre will now go on my auto-buy list.

If you'd like to know more about Roseanna M White and her books, you can check out her website at http://www.roseannawhite.com/.

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Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. In 2005, Anita Mae decided to return to writing and make it a priority in her life. She writes old west stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Her characters are strong because the land demands it. Anita Mae likes to write characters who sit up and notice when that special person God’s chosen just for them walks by. The story is all about the courtship between the two main characters. But it won’t be an easy path. And if they don’t know about God at the beginning of the book, they will by the end. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. She’s currently waiting to hear the phone ring and have someone say they want to buy Emma’s Outlaw. Meanwhile, she’s working on another story and trying to keep her imagination in check. http://www.anitamaedraper.com/

16 comments:

  1. Excellent review, Anita. I helped critique this book and loved all three or so times I read it. LOL. As you mentioned, Roseanna is a master at getting to the emotional and psychological depth of a hard situation. I love the way she incorporated Greek history. A lot of those light and dark battles you talked about are actually chronicled in their history. Fascinating stuff turned into an even more fascinating book!

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  2. Dina, you should be proud of your contribution to this book, because I was amazed at the thought that went into the different subplots and how they were all tied up with finesse. It truly is remarkable how she wove fiction and history.

    I also appreciated the list of people and key places found at the beginning of the book, especially the info on who is fictional and who is historical. I referred to this list many times during my read. There was only once when I cringed after looking because it told me who succeeded whom and I thought the story implied something different. However, if I'd been 'up' on my history knowledge, I would have known the answer anyway. Or perhaps I was so caught up in the Jewel of Persia that it pushed everything else aside. Yeah, that was it. :D

    Anyway, kudos, Dina. As an editor for WhiteFire, I think anyone reading this would want to make an appt with you at the next writing conference.

    Anita Mae.

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  3. This is a great review, Anita. I can't wait to read it. I won a copy of this book and I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival. Thanks for your insightful perspective. It makes me that much more eager to read it.

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  4. Thanks, Suzie. You're blessed to have won a copy. It really is a thought-provoking book.

    I appreciate you popping in with your comment. :)

    Anita Mae.

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  5. Anita, this is a great review. I'm especially interested in this book because I've always wondered how wives co-existed peacefully in the years of multiple wives and concubines. I'm reading through Genesis right now, so between Sarah and Hagar and Rachel and Leah, this topic is fresh in my mind.

    It sounds like the author did a tremendous job with this sensitive and multi-layered story. I can't wait to read this book!

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  6. I haven't gotten to Roseanna's second book yet and I'm already anticipating her third.


    Whitefire has started out with some awesome books!!

    Thank you Anita.

    There's a great story behind the book cover as well. Cool stuff

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  7. Nice review. I don't think I'd handle having to share my husband with hundreds of other women all the time. Ewwww. But this sounds like a great book. :)

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  8. Okay, since we're chatting about Roseanna books, I've read a bunch.

    Stray Drop of Blood - amazing, very deep, spiritual, romantic, and fascinating. Set at the time of Christ. Lots of cool Greek and Roman history mixed in. Be prepared, there's basically two whole novels in that one. Double the bang for your buck :)

    Jewel of Persia - very exotic, all the light versus darkness stuff, rich Persian and Greek history, great story, everything Anita said.

    Love Find You in Annapolis - this one is cute and funny. Very different from Jewel of Persia. But lots of interesting early U.S history. A cut above the norm for genre romance.

    Her new book she's working on is a Revolutionary romantic suspense with spies and stuff. Very cool.

    But my favorite is an unfinished contemporary romance with Bedouin heroine who was sold as a sex slave and saved by this hunky guy who's an ex special ops soldier or something and is now a mercenary. Amazing stuff!!

    So that's a glimpse into the wonderful world of Roseanna White.

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  9. Hey Gwen, you and me both. It made me think about the modern sects with multiple wives they call, 'sister-wives'. It's the same hierarchy I would presume, but in a much smaller dwelling where it's harder to be separate from the rest. I really don't know how the women do it.

    Thanks for the visit. :)

    Anita Mae.

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  10. Hey Deb, I sure am too. She must spend an inordinate amount of time on research. And why would you leave us hanging? What's the story behind the cover?

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  11. Hey DeAnna, I've always said I wouldn't mind have more wives around the place because I hate cleaning. But I draw the line at them sleeping with my husband. :D

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  12. Wow, Dina. Is that Bedouin contemporary one an Inspy? Now that I've got to read! I'll be keeping tabs on Roseanna for that one.

    Thanks for the info, Dina.

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  13. Exactly, DeAnna. It kinda blows the lid off the 'pick one genre' bit, doesn't it? So glad to know there's hope for us writers who like to write contemporary and historical, inspy and mainstream.
    Yay!

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  14. Hi Inkies! Just got the Google alert to swing by today. =)

    Dina actually deserves the credit for the list of characters in the front--that was her recommendation. Of course, as I was putting it together and realizing how MANY characters there were, remembering all that industry advice to avoid large casts, I started thinking, "Man, why did history actually have to name so many of these people??" LOL

    The cover--the model is someone Dina met and nearly scared away by asking her within minutes of meeting if she'd want to model for a book cover, LOL. But she came back later for more info, and Dina got to run the photo shoot. =) The bracelet images are courtesy of an awesome Greek designer of www.GreekJewelryShop.com --a designer so awesome that he sent me the bracelet as a congratulation gift when the book released!

    As for my Bedouin book (called SEIZED), I'm really, really hoping my new agent says, "This one's intriguing. Let's pitch it to . . ." here next week. We shall see. If not, it may be my next WhiteFire book. It's an Inspy, yes. The whole reason Cantara (heroine) trusts Smith (hero) enough to let him rescue her is because she sees the peace of the Lord in his eyes. And the whole reason Smith went on this operation is because the Lord told him he had to. =)

    As for my diversity . . . I was very, very relieved when said new agent told me "Oh, doing historicals and contemporaries simultaneously, with different publishers, can work very well--so long as there are common themes." I'm pretty sure I have common themes. I don't know what they are exactly, LOL (labeling my own work is NOT my strong suit!), but they've got the same "feel," I think.

    Did I miss anything? ;-)

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  15. Hey Roseanna, kudos to Dina for the list, then because I really appreciated that aspect.

    Dina did an awesome job with the cover, too. :)

    I read in the book where you gave credit for the Greek bracelet. I also read once where you should have one item to symbolize the story - something that's recognizable at a glance. After seeing the bracelet photo at the top of each page I'm tending to agree with however said that. I don't think I'll ever see one of those again - with or without the twin lion heads - and not think of Jewel of Persia.

    Well, I'm no agent, but that Bedouin book is intriguing to me. :)

    I appreciate you dropping by and shedding light on those topics, Roseanna. And hang on to Dina. She's a treasure. :D

    Anita Mae.

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