The sleepless nights, the overwhelming anxiety, I now know it has all been worth it.
Every author has the same unrealistic desire. Write a book that every reader will devour and tell the world how wonderful and gifted the author is. With time and a few knocks to the cranium, we see the foolishness of that vision. Readers are selective about what they want to read. Furthermore, what is going to thrill them to pieces will vary wildly. So hoping readers will be drawn to your novel and offer any praise at all is like winning the lottery.
When an author gets a positive review, it’s a bloody relief. When the review rating is above four, it’s time to do the happy chicken dance.
Forbidden received a 4.75 rating from REVIEWS BY MARTHA’S BOOKSHELF. Freaking amazing.
Eliza, a Canadian paramedic, traveled to the City of Samara to work with an American Habitat team. Eliza struggles with crippling PTSD episodes as she tries to recover from a traumatic loss a few years past. The Habitat convoy is diverted to a police compound where they are massacred. The real police engage the terrorists at the last minute, rescuing a terrified Eliza. Captain Sharif, a devout Muslin, takes Eliza into custody, first to confirm she wasn’t part of the attack and then to keep her safe.
Sharif’s superiors threaten his family if he doesn’t cover-up the killings and silence the sole surviving witness. Sharif struggles to find a way to save Eliza, even acting behind her back. Eliza respects Sharif’s dedication to his faith and to his duties as an officer of the law. She knows that he is trying to protect her but she doesn’t appreciate not being privy to the plans to hide her away.
Sharif is forced to lie to the CIA agent who arrives to find the bodies of the Americans and bring in the killers. Sharif must intensify his efforts to obtain proof of the corruption in his own government as the CIA agent holds him under suspicion.
Sharif and Eliza grow in friendship as they share close spaces and learn of each other’s vulnerabilities. Eliza knows that she does not fit in Sharif’s world and any relationship between them is forbidden. Sharif, who has convinced himself that he is not worthy of love, struggles to maintain his strict code of honor even as he is drawn to the brave, impetuous Eliza. Can they find the strength to acknowledge their love, assuming they can survive the multiplying threats to their freedoms and their very lives?
The plot is wonderfully crafted with well-developed characters, nonstop suspense and a good twist to the ending. The setting and political environment make an effective backdrop and I found the Muslim elements very interesting. Ms. Stone adds to this an improbable but beautiful romance.
The primary characters are real, flawed and courageous. It was natural to root for them to beat the enemy and accept their love for one another. I also liked the secondary characters and would like to read more about all of them. There were some typographical errors but the story is well worth reading. I hope to try more of Ms. Stone’s work very soon. I highly recommend this story to readers who like action packed suspense with romance.