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…
“Did you enjoy the dessert? They had been planning on serving crème brûlée, but I remembered you like gelato. Strawberry.”
She turned and Kash was standing in the doorway, the tie to his tuxedo undone and the first few buttons of his shirt open, showing off golden skin.
Oh, how the girls must swoon over that man.
Unfortunately for him, she was a woman and not a girl. She curtseyed, recalling her etiquette classes and going down deep, to show her respect for the crown. “I thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Come now, Day. I asked you not to call me that long ago, and now it appears there’s even less reason. We were friends then. We’re going to be husband and wife in a week. Shocking how quickly that woman can move when she wants to.”
He looked so composed, but she couldn’t forget that he’d only found out his mother was dying this afternoon. That was when she’d seen the real man. She’d interrupted them with her silly dress and she’d seen the shock and pain on Kash’s face before he’d smoothed it out and gone back to being the polite royal he’d become.
“Are you all right?” She asked the question for two reasons. First, she wanted to know the answer and second, to see if they really were still friends.
His lips curved up slightly. “I’m faring quite well. We Kamdars are made of sterner stuff than this. Did you enjoy the dinner?”
So, not so friendly he would talk about private things with her. It was good to know where they stood. They needed to have a long conversation about how this was going to work. They might be marrying to protect the Kamdar line and to give his mother some peace, but they needed a plan of action about how best to achieve their goals.
Partners. That was how she’d decided to look at this. They were partners. And if she ended up governing the kingdom while he was out fucking around with supermodels, she wouldn’t get her heart broken.
Yes, they needed a talk and perhaps a contract.
“I enjoyed the meal very much. The company left something to be desired, but I suspect I’ll get used to dining with windbag politicians.” She turned back to the balcony, leaning against it. The view from here was spectacular. Beyond that, it was soothing in a way.
“Yes, Mother told me they’re giving you trouble.” He joined her, leaning beside her, their bodies so close but not touching. “I’ll talk to them, ensure you have your funding.”
“Don’t. It can wait a few weeks. I need to go back to them and introduce myself as their new queen.” She wasn’t about to let them think she sent her husband in. If he behaved as he so often did, he wouldn’t be around much and it would be up to her to keep everyone in line.
“Is that why you agreed to this arrangement? Because you wanted power?”
“I agreed because I care about this country. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life working here and trying to ensure that our children get what they need to make it out in the world. I agreed because your mother is excellent at putting one in a corner. I agreed because someone has to and I wasn’t sure who you would bring home if given the chance.” She shuddered at the idea of some brainless model attempting to be a role model for Loa Malian girls.
“Ah, you don’t think I have good taste in women.”
“I think you have an unquenchable appetite for them, Your Majesty, and that is something we should talk about.”
“Ah, the wifely lectures begin,” he said with a sigh. “Please proceed. I’m anxious to get this over with so I can be properly chastened.”
“I only ask that you attempt some discretion, Kashmir. I don’t expect you to be faithful in any way, but I do expect you to not humiliate me.”
He turned, frowning a bit as though she’d surprised him. “You don’t expect me to be faithful?”
It was time for some honesty. “I don’t think you can be. How long have you kept a single woman? A month? Three?”
“Six,” he replied. “I was with Tasha Reynolds for six months before we went our separate ways.”
“And were you faithful to her?” She already knew the answer to that question.
“We had an agreement.” He frowned as though the conversation wasn’t going at all as he’d expected. “She was on set much of the time. She knew I had a highly stressful job, so she was understanding. I gave her the same options.”
“Excellent, then let’s be fair with each other. As long as we’re both discreet, this marriage of ours doesn’t have to mean the end of our lives.”
Holy Hell do I have a new favorite Mistress/heroine/Professor Queen to add to my list of outstanding female characters. Dayita Samar is one heck of a woman and the complexity of her character is due to the control and dominance she yields as well as her ability to know her worth and demand an equal place in the eyes of men who try to control her…who try to bring her to her knees in a servile role – one that she adamantly refuses to play no matter the rank or status of those who look to demean her.
Everything about Day worked for me! She reads people so well and knows exactly what Kash needs, even if he’s unwilling to admit to it. Day gives a voice to the women of her country, and she empowers them to speak for themselves, using both her intelligence and her stellar personality to evoke change in a kingdom that is very set in its ways when it comes to the monarchy and its role with the people. It doesn’t matter that she’s a commoner…it doesn’t matter that she’s into dominatrix…what matters is that she’s the woman who can save Kash from himself…the woman who can give him stability and force him to accept who he is and what he needs to deal with the pressure of his duties as King.
Kashmir Kamdar definitely has a playboy reputation and a past filled with weak women who have graced his bed but nothing else. Because Kash shares a history with Day, the arranged marriage his mother has forced on him doesn’t sound quite as bad as it did before he knew, but 15 years is a long separation and the man and woman Kash and Day are now is nothing like they were at Oxford, and due to Kash’s dalliances for the past five years, it’s difficult to say whether this forced relationship will be what turns Kash’s life and role in his kingdom around or if it sends him spiraling even further because a King is not supposed to want/need to submit to anyone, let alone a woman when he has a country to command.
Despite the fact that Kash and Dayita’s story is a novella, the points of contention that they must confront are numerous and complex. Kash has turned into a ruler who does not hold much creditability with his people and because of his insecurities and his self-imposed failures, he’s unable to see with clarity what Day is offering him as her lowly servant in their bedroom but nowhere else. And, the struggle to get Kash to see his desires as anything but perverse is not something that will happen quickly because he’s ingrained who he’s supposed to be according to his deceased father’s dictates and he can’t get passed who he should be even if it’s not exactly who he is or who he wants to be.
Arranged is a fantastic addition to Lexi Blake’s Masters and Mercenaries series, and it’s a story with the perfect mix of conflict, a bit of suspense, steamy submission, and a badass heroine who knows exactly how to please her King!
4.5 Poison Apples
About the Author
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.