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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Mediterranean Sunset by Yvette Canoura takes us on a journey into the Muslim world of a Middle-Eastern country. Fatima was born in Washington D.C. and had spent her entire life there, growing up in the relaxed, wealthy, comfortable, and privileged American culture. Her father was the U.S. Ambassador for the (fictional) Middle-Eastern nation of Antarah. As Fatima prepares to graduate from college, she discovers not only is her mother dying, but that her father has arranged a marriage for her to a young army lieutenant in the country she has never lived in. Distraught, but a loyal Muslim daughter, she agrees to the arranged marriage and heads to Antarah to try to make a life with this handsome but dangerously arrogant and seemingly callous man, who doesn’t quite seem prepared to give up his playboy ways even after marrying her. Determined to make her marriage work, she attempts to fit into a society she has never known. A chance encounter with a doctor whose attractions prove instant and electric will put her in a situation where she and her new paramour will face life-threatening dangers as events of intrigue, deception, revenge, and treachery begin to play out all around her, affecting not only the lovers but the entire nation. Fatima and Dr. Brahim will soon find themselves in a race for their lives.
Mediterranean Sunset is ultimately a love story and author Yvette Canoura did a lovely job of setting the scene for this potentially tragic love story to unfold. I particularly like the premise of a young woman totally schooled in western morals and values, who had never even lived in her Middle-Eastern home, suddenly thrust into the culture shock of becoming a Muslim wife and even more, that of an arranged marriage with a man she had never met. I also appreciated the balance and counterpoint to Fatima’s disastrous relationship with that of her best friend Jamila, who also took the exact same route of an arranged marriage, after growing up in the U.S., and yet was deliriously happy with her marriage and her new baby. This gave the narrative a much-needed grounding in reality and nixed the proposition that arranged marriages are in some way a bad thing, which is not always necessarily the case. This is an easy-flowing read, with sweet and tender love scenes that will appeal to the romantic in us all, yet it is never lacking in action, subterfuge, and clever plot twists that will keep the reader guessing, hoping, and rooting for Fatima and Dr. Brahim right to the end. I’m always a sucker for a good love story and this book is definitely one of those, with the added bonus of exposing the reader to another culture and differing social mores. For that reason, I can highly recommend this read.