EXCERPT: The night was starkly beautiful under a canopy of jeweled stars. I savored my moments of freedom, which were marred by the realization that it was dripping away day by day. The sizzle of coffee beans roasting in the skillet floated across the still air. Cups clinked on a tray as my father passed them around the circle. The aroma of roasted brew spiced with cardamom seeped into the night. As I tried to slip past, Horeb’s eyes caught mine. Firelight flickered over his face, outlining his jaw and wind-tangled black hair. He was devastatingly handsome just as all the girls said, but his lips curled into a smile that sent shudders down my spine. Horeb’s glance lingered on my body, settling not on my face, but lower, as if he was undressing me right there on the dirt path. His eyes locking onto mine, Horeb rose from the circle of men. I jerked around, breaking off his stare. Walking faster, I turned the corner of the tent just as his arm reached out to stop me. “So, little cousin,” Horeb said. “Have you been enjoying the betrothal ceremony? Tell me, are the women telling stories of marital relations?” My breath caught like a thorn in my throat. The women’s ceremonies were not discussed with any male—only inside the privacy of a marriage bed. “You shouldn’t be saying these things to me,” I said. Running his fingers down my arm, Horeb continued to study me. “There are many things I’d like to say to you, Jayden. Do to you.” There used to be a time when my throat pounded every time Horeb turned my direction. A time when he was growing into those big, dark eyes and that hard, muscular body. Moments when I wanted to touch his thick, black hair, or run my finger along his jaw to discover what a boy’s skin felt like with a newly growing beard. But now that I was sixteen, and he twenty, his stares made me uneasy. My heart still pounded, but not from love. And I wasn’t sure what it was or what to call it.
My review: Wow, this book was amazing! Jayden has just turned 16 and she's just having her betrothal party where she will be expected to dance just as her mother has been teaching her all of her life. Little does she know that as soon as the fun and dancing are over, her life will be thrown into chaos as her mother will die in childbirth along with a much anticipated baby brother. With her mother's death, Jayden knows there is little chance to be able to get out of her betrothal to Horeb, the future leader of their tribe, who she wants nothing to do with marrying even before she meets the handsome stranger Kadesh. Will Jayden be able to follow her heart or will she be forever chained to a future that she doesn't want.
I loved everything about this book. I loved Jayden, her mom and her sister Leila, even though Leila is selfish. I was so sad when their mom died and even sadder when their baby sister was sent away with a woman who cared nothing for her simply because she would die without the milk the woman could provide. I loved the way that Jayden's life is portrayed, I really felt as though I was back in the 1750's desert of Mesopotamia with her. I loved the way that her clan honored women, especially virtuous women. It did sadden me to see the way that Jayden wanted nothing to do with Horeb, in fact he was terrible to her, but she was going to be forced to marry him anyway. All because her family had lost their camels and had no money. The ending was really a cliff-hanger, but filled with hope and I really can't wait to read the second of Jayden's adventures. This book is clean, and well written, you won't want to miss it!
Author Kimberley Griffiths Little
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.