Kash Kamdar is the king of a peaceful but powerful island nation. As Loa Mali’s sovereign, he is always in control, the final authority. Until his mother uses an ancient law to force her son into marriage. His prospective queen is a buttoned-up intellectual, nothing like Kash’s usual party girl. Still, from the moment of their forced engagement, he can’t stop thinking about her.
Dayita Samar comes from one of Loa Mali’s most respected families. The Oxford-educated scientist has dedicated her life to her country’s future. But under her staid and calm exterior, Day hides a few sexy secrets of her own. She is willing to marry her king, but also agrees that they can circumvent the law. Just because they’re married doesn’t mean they have to change their lives. It certainly doesn’t mean they have to fall in love.
After one wild weekend in Dallas, Kash discovers his bride-to-be is more than she seems. Engulfed in a changing world, Kash finds exciting new possibilities for himself. Could Day help him find respite from the crushing responsibility he’s carried all his life? This fairy tale could have a happy ending, if only they can escape Kash’s past…
– EXCERPT –
“Are we a happy couple?”
“I don’t think we’ve had time enough to be sure of that yet, but I know we were once.” She’d thought it through in a way she never had before. She had a much different view of those months with Kash in England. “You were courting me back then, weren’t you? You wanted me to be your girlfriend.”
He sat down in the plush chair that dominated the sitting area portion of his bedroom. Normally they stayed in the living room, but he’d wanted more privacy. This was the only place in his suite that wasn’t covered by CCTV, the only place where they could truly be alone. Everything about the space was masculine and decadent, including the man himself. With his hair disheveled and his chest on display, it wasn’t hard at all to see him as a primal male.
One she’d dearly enjoy taming.
“I don’t think you realized it at the time.”
She was willing to admit her faults. “I didn’t. I had my nose in a book most of the time back then and I had little experience with men. No, I had no idea you were interested in me beyond copying my notes from class when you slept in.”
“It would surprise you to know that I often thought about sleeping in with you.” His voice had gone low and gentle. “I was crazy about you back then, Day. I find myself in the same position today, but I don’t want to scare you. I know you think we should take this slow and I will honor your wishes, but I want this marriage to work. You see me as a playboy, but I don’t want to be some forty-plus player who trades on his money to keep young girls around him. I think it might be time for me to find out if I can be the king my father would have wanted me to be.”
It was all she needed to hear. If he wanted to try, she was ready. Despite his reputation, she’d fallen right back into a peaceful friendship with him. He’d been the old Kash, supporting her when she needed it. He’d asked her questions about her work with the education department and then gave her ideas on how to handle the parliament. He hadn’t told her what she should do. He’d suggested, debated.
“I think you’ll find me less averse to giving this marriage a real try than you think. I was planning on talking to you about using the Palm Ceremony to begin to explore what we could be as a couple.”
He frowned. “I’m not sure what that means. You want to talk? Or have counseling? Because that sounds terrible.”
“I was talking about sex, Kashmir. I thought we could use this time to see if we’re sexually compatible.”
He popped up out of his chair like an eager puppy. “Yes. I think that is a brilliant idea. We should start now. Don’t worry. I intend to be gentle with you.”
She didn’t move at all. “Like you are with your lovely flowers?”
“Women deserve a man’s care,” he said quietly. “Day, I can’t erase my past.”
“I don’t want you to.” He misunderstood her problems with his statement. “But I do need you to understand that I’m not one of those flowers. I’m not here to sit at your side and bat my eyelashes in the hopes that you’ll buy something for me. I don’t work like that. I don’t care about your money.”
“That is easy for you to say. You’re about to have access to all of it, aren’t you?”
He had a point. “Even if I wasn’t, that wouldn’t be why I would want you, Kash. Sit down. We have some things to talk about before we get started. Come here close to me.”
He moved to the chaise she was sitting on, lowering himself down with a sullen frown. “I knew there would be talking.”
She was fairly certain his lovely flowers did very little talking, but he would get used to it. “Why did you want me back then?”
“I liked you. I liked talking to you. I liked being around you. I rather liked who I was when I was around you.” His expression softened. “I don’t think you knew how alluring you were to someone like me. You didn’t understand how beautiful you were, so you didn’t use it against me. Most women do.”
“Well, that happens when you surround yourself with women who are mostly valued for their looks. I don’t blame them. They’ve been told their beauty is the only thing worthy about them. If you want to meet women who don’t feel that way, you should probably expand out of models and actresses.”
“Well, you would be surprised how many gorgeous, sexy physicists turn me down because I’m not smart enough for them.”
– REVIEW –
Fifteen years ago, two brilliant and attractive students are drawn to each other while studying at Oxford. Both are native to the wealthy island of Loa Mali. Kashmir (Kash) Kamdar is royalty — he is the spare to the heir of Loa Mali. The young woman he is drawn to — perhaps even bit in love with — is a commoner, Dayita (Day) Samar. Kash finds Day’s strong personality attractive, even alluring — he likes the way she takes control. Just as Kash is making his feelings towards Day know to her, fate intervenes and the two are abruptly and seemingly forever separated.
Fast forward to present time, Kash is now the ruling monarch of Loa Mali. His sudden rise to power fifteen years ago, coupled with insecurities, resentments and guilt have led him to live a life nothing short of debauchery. Kash has a worldwide reputation as a playboy extraordinaire — this dude even has a YouTube channel featuring his sex tapes.
His mother, Queen Yasmine, has had enough, and uses her power as reigning queen to arrange a marriage for Kash. Utilizing the services of McKay-Taggart, the Queen literally has an outraged Kash dragged out of bed (where he’s been “entertaining” three ladies), and hauled back to Loa Mali for the wedding. Once back at Loa Mali palace, Kash is stunned to discover that his mother’s pick to be his bride is none other that his Oxford love, Dayita Samar.
Dayita Samar returned to Loa Mali ten years ago, and she is now the head of Loa Mali’s education department. Unlike Kash, Day is self-assured — she knows who she is, what her goals and needs are and how to get them. One of her needs is to dominate, and Day, using utmost discretion, has indulged her need for dominance in some of the most exclusive BDSM clubs in the world. But now facing an arranged marriage that will see her become queen of Loa Mali, will Day be forced to give up the BDSM part of her life, or is there another way to fulfill her needs? With Kash now as her husband, perhaps Day can revive the feelings she and Kash were just beginning to explore fifteen years ago. Can Day bring out the submissive in Kash, without destroying their chance for a happy marriage?
Arranged is book 13.5 in Lexi Blake’s wildly popular Masters and Mercenaries series, as well as being the latest offering from the good people at 1001 Dark Nights. It is a stand alone novella, and you do not have to be familiar with the Masters and Mercenaries series to enjoy this story. One of the fine talents of author Blake is her ability to introduce (or reintroduce) her secondary characters to readers while maintaining an even pace to the story. The McKay-Taggart presence plays a prominent role without diminishing or interrupting Arranged’s main plot, which is the angst-filled relationship between Kash and Day.
The D/s relationship with a female Domme is usually not my cup of tea, but I found myself curious as to how the author would write this scenario, given the rigid circumstances of the plot. Kudos to Lexi Blake, who manages to orchestrate a very fine, believable dance between Kash and Day — it works without feeling forced or unnatural. What minor issue I had with Arranged was that Kash seemed to be completely ignorant of the fact that Day had been back, living on Loa Mali (his island kingdom) for ten years, unaware of her somewhat prominent presence in the Malian nation. I’m chalking that one up to Kash’s major case of manwhore in oblivion syndrome.
Another one-click winner from Lexi Blake.
* ARC received from 1001 Dark Nights via Inkslinger in exchange for an honest review.*
– ABOUT LEXI BLAKE –
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.