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I forced myself to finish this book all the way to the very end, in the sad hope that at some point the plot/characters would be explained and everything would make sense and come together. It didn't. Even given the low low expectations that I set for 'romance' books this one was bad. I'd say that the plot was lacking, but that implies there was something resembling a plot. It seemed early on that the book was going to be about how Ivan falls in love with Esma as she tells him how she came to murder all her lovers. Nope. Not to spoil things, but nothing is every explained. Why does the sultan murder all Esma's lovers? Why, if she feels as bad as she seems to, does she continue to take lovers knowing they are going to be murdered? The whole premise makes no sense. There is zero chemistry between the two main characters, mostly because they realistic characters in any way shape or form.
Rather than filling up the ten hours with plot, the author has fallen into the historical fiction writing trap of describing irrelevant things that may or may not be interesting but have nothing really to do with the plot that she learned while doing research. Pointless descriptions and odd tangents fill up most of the time in this book.
The only good thing about this book was the narrator, who did as good a job as she could with the material she was given.
Bottom line: don't waste your money, not even if its on sale.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I did not learn one thing about the Ottoman Empire and it wasn't much of a romance either. The first 10 hours killed me and the last 8 minutes were fair! I am going to stick with authors I know when a sale pops up.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
A wonderful trip back to the Ottoman Empire. The novel is filled with love, cruelty, suspense, and the clash of beliefs of the social castes of characters whose lives entwine by chance and finally by choice in this wonderful historical novel.