Where the Palm Trees Whisper by Azayla R.A. #Review

Where the Palm Trees Whisper by Azayla R.A. #ReviewWhere the Palm Trees Whisper by Azayla R.A.

Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Indie/Self Published on April 13, 2016
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Buy: Amazon
three-half-stars
two-flames

add to goodreads

I was curious about this book when I saw it.  It’s a cross-cultural forbidden romantic suspense set in a war torn Baghdad.  It was also written by an author who would have a different take on it from the usual.  I was glad to have read it, but just as the book itself was a unique piece to pick up so went the story within finishing on a bittersweet non-conventional romance note.

The story opens with Iraqi, Zahra Quraishi teaching in Baghdad and living at home with her family during the war.  It is dangerous and everyone lives in fear.  Her family wishes that she would stay home and not take chances like her daily walks to the only school left open where she is the only teacher.  But Zahra is determined to give her few students an education and a bright spot in their dreary lives.  She is determined to live in the light even while her world is topsy-turvy and bleak.

A bombing comes close and it is American soldiers who come to get her and her students out.  One soldier in particular captures her attention.  And soon captures her heart.  Zach is gentle and kind.  He is as take with her as she, with him.  His unity returns to help protect her and the children while there is school.  Zach comes into the classroom and is there each day.  Zahra knows she should squash her feelings and not give Zach any encouragement, but their friendship and growing feelings can’t be denied.

They fight against tradition, ideology, religion, and prejudice within themselves and others to be together.  And just when they think they have it, something goes dreadfully wrong.  Zach can’t figure out what happened and people tell him to get on with his life, but he can’t.  He needs to know the truth.

Alright, this book is told with a unique writing voice.  I would hazard the guess that it is a translated to English story.  At least that is how it felt since there are some foreign flavored nuances.  I had to adjust, but that wasn’t difficult.  I engaged with the story from the first sentence.  It is reflective and feels like the heroine is confessing to her journal even though it is a narrative.  The heroine tells the first half of the book and then it changes to alternate between the hero’s present and the heroine in the past.

The half way point is when it alters dramatically from the romance of Zahra and Zach to add the suspense element.  It’s confusing at first and then makes sense.  That is when the sadness and tension is no longer hinted at, but is full blown.  The story is emotional and heartbreaking.  Yet so very real and gripping.  The pair of star-crossed lovers are true to their circumstances.  There are some gaps that I would have liked filled in better with Zahra’s side.  The ending broke my heart and left me stunned.  I would have liked an epilogue to give me a sense of what came after.

All in all, I was glad to have picked up this diverse read that was rich in culture and feeling and tells the story of two people who meet and fall in love in the crosshairs of war.  This will not be for everyone and particularly those who are looking for the standard HEA romance, but I do recommend it for the unconventional contemporary romance and romantic suspense lovers.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #215 RS
New to Me #90 author
Diversity #35

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Debbie Haupt

    Thanks Sophia Rose I’m really interested in this but I’m wary too!

    • I don’t blame you. I felt like I should give folks fair warning. It’s definitely for a certain mood.

  • oh you know I love diversity in books like this. But I like a happy ending, so I am not sure I would be okay with this one.

    • Yeah, it was a beautiful story, but it sure was full of the tragedy, too. Definitely not for the everyday romance need.

  • I can tell from your review that It’s a sad story, but I love to read the ones that make you feel. Just the setting and circumstances alone make me want to dive in.

    • Oh yes, that is exactly what this is. I think based on what I’ve seen from your own reviews that you would appreciate this one, Lekeisha.

  • This one sounds interesting and original with the setting and issues it tackles, although it also sounds sad with the war going on and such an dhow difficult everybody their lives must be. I like how Zahra is determined to keep teaching and her romance with Zach sounds well done. Sounds like there’s a lot standing in their way of happiness, but I hope they get there eventually. I like books that are rich in culture and give me a feel for other cultures, but not so sure if I would like the heartbreaking ending. Great review Sophia!

    • Yes, it was definitely all that, Lola. But the ending is definitely one to break the heart so it’s not a feel gooder.

  • Well you have me curious on the non traditional ending! Sounds like quite the set up for this one and some hard bits.

    • Yeah, that ending. Ugly tears. Think Kim Jones’ Sinner’s Creed type of non-traditional ending without the sweet heaven scene. But the story was powerful so was worth it. Sorta.

      • Ah. Yeah I needed that little heaven scene to be okay with the Jones one. Maybe if I went in knowing it would be different though.

        • I don’t know if knowing would have helped, but maybe. It’s the sort of scene you’re so caught up in that you might forget what you know and just experience it raw.